Similar to bookstores and libraries, independent record stores tend to have a certain aura: dynamic background music, a slight mustiness, the low hum of small talk, and passionate staff with unparalleled musical knowledge. There is something endlessly appealing about this atmosphere, and Academy Records is no exception. Amid the ever-growing whirlwind of high tech and virtual realities, Academy’s owner, Joseph GaNun, has been working tirelessly to preserve a once-ubiquitous medium: the record.
Back in the 1970s, Academy was primarily a book store. In the 1990s, they switched it up a bit by moving two doors down, and today it is widely acclaimed as a destination music shop. They are a haven for devotees of all styles of music, with an emphasis placed on classical and jazz. A matter of fact, Academy is considered one of the best places to come for classical music in the country, if not the world. Any lover of vinyl or compact discs will find a home here, as we observed one Friday afternoon while we watched a dozen or so men and women (of all ages) fervently flipping through records, CDs, and DVDs. Quite a refreshing change of pace in the age of iTunes and online shopping and certainly nothing like we have witnessed in any other record shop, thus far.
A city landmark and a slice of Old New York, Pete's Tavern has been serving food and draft beer uninterrupted since 1864. It does not take much to envision Pete's as it was a century and a half ago. The scarred, carved bar, the high-backed booths, tin ceiling and functional 1950's register are reminders that this was once the favorite haunt of writer O. Henry, a speakeasy, and a pre-Civil War "grocery & grog. " Walking through the rooms, one can also discover hundreds of photos of people from our past - James Cagney, Mickey Mantle, and celebrities of today, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, and Adam Sandler. To drink here is to drink half in the past and half in the present.
New York has more than its fair share of yakitori houses and sushi bars, but this Japanese transplant is concerned with presenting its American diners with Teishoku, or home-style cooking. This chain, which opened in Japan in 1958, features nourishing, traditional fare, where a "healthy body and mind" are top priority. Throughout Asia there are over three hundred restaurants, and as of 2012, New Yorkers can dine in the light, airy interior of their elegant US flagship restaurant.
Ken Giddon likes to say that he went “from riches to rags” by leaving a career as a bond trader to reopen his grandfather’s men’s clothing store. Harry Rothman used to peddle his wares from a pushcart on Delancey Street in the 1920s before moving into a retail space. “He kind of created the concept of a discount clothing store, ” Ken remarked. Rothman's closed for a time after Harry’s death in 1985, but Ken revived the business a year later in a stunning, 11, 000-square-foot storefront on the corner of 18th Street in Union Square. “I love being on a side street. It gives us the ability to afford a bigger space while watching the movable feast that is New York walk by every day. ” Five years after the shop’s reopening, Ken invited his brother, Jim, to join him. “This is one of the true family businesses in Manhattan. ” The store, which carries both casual and formal attire from top designers, aims to make the shopping experience for men “as efficient and rewarding as possible. ” To this end, Ken and Jim scour the market, travel abroad, and attend numerous trade shows to find the best brands. “We try to provide our customers with that personal, small-town feel in the middle of the city, ” Jim said. Despite Rothman's more modern look and merchandise, the brothers strive to keep some core elements of their grandfather’s business alive, particularly by preserving his humble approach to owning a men’s retail store. As Harry used to say, “It’s not so serious what we do. We just sell pants for a living. ”